2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness                         Audit of Alberta’s Provincial Electoral                        ...
Prepared by Mr. Stephen Garvey, Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, University of British Columbiaand Master of Philoso...
Table of Contents:Introduction                                                                              5Chapter 1: El...
Chapter 5: Overall Audit Results                                                          61Chapter 6: Analysis           ...
Introduction:The FDA audit of Albertas electoral legislation is based on non-partisanship and objectivity.The audit proces...
Chapter One: Electoral FinanceChapter one will focus on the FDA research and audit results of Albertan electoral finance l...
The FDA chose these sub-sections because they represent core areas of electoral finance. Basedon the concept of political ...
Disclosure Act, Article 29, 31).       A third party must register if it has or plans to incur expenses of $1,000 or more,...
Caps on Contributions to Candidates and PartiesAre there caps on contributions to candidates and parties?Are the caps on c...
The maximum contribution is $40,000.       3525/40000 = .0881       0.0881 out of 1.0 (FDA Audit Team, 2012).       Regist...
Caps on Third Party SpendingAre there caps on third party spending?If there is third party spending, is it restricted to c...
Legislative ProcessIs legislative process to enforce the electoral finance laws?Is there an effective legislative process ...
Analysis:Alberta received a score of 47.7 percent for the electoral fairness of its electoral financelegislation (see pie ...
freedom of speech of others who are not able to contribute and spend, thereby their voice may beovershadowed, for example,...
Chapter Two: Political Content of MediaChapter two will focus on the FDA research and audit results of Albertan laws on po...
What follows are the audit results for each sub-section of Albertas media legislation. It showsthe matrix question, the in...
Surveys/PollsAre there reasonable public disclosure requirements on surveys and polls in terms of theirmethodology, data, ...
Radio broadcasters must maintain a program log for one year, which will contain content       and subject information for ...
Analysis:Based on the FDA scoring scales, Alberta scored 45 percent for the political content of media, 5percent below the...
The pie illustrates the level of fairness of the Alberta legislation on political content of media.Foundation for Democrat...
Chapter Three: Candidate and Party InfluenceChapter three will focus on the FDA research and audit results of Albertan law...
4. process of government;   5. registration of candidates;   6. registration of parties;   7. electoral complaints;   8. e...
Research Findings:       The elections of provincial constituency seats are based on first-past-the-post. The       Albert...
(unicameral). The legislative assembly is made up elected officials. The leader of the       party with the most seats in ...
registration with parties, the FDA thinks that there should be a reasonable democratic       barrier of entry for candidat...
0.3% of eligible voters equals 6,756 number of required support.       Or per the law requiring endorsed candidates at lea...
Legislative Assembly. The petitioner must make a $1,000 deposit to cover fees of the       respondent. Also, there is an a...
Candidate and Party AdvertisementDuring the campaign period, do candidates and parties have equal access to radio, televis...
Impartial and Balanced Political CoverageDuring the campaign period is the media (private and public) required legally top...
Surveys/PollsAre there reasonable public disclosure requirements on surveys and polls in terms of theirmethodology, data, ...
Electoral Finance TransparencyAre candidate and party finances transparent to the public?       1 out of 1       Legislati...
Contributions to Candidates and PartiesAre electoral contributions restricted to citizens?       0 out of .2       Researc...
Caps on Contributions to Candidates and PartiesAre there caps on contributions to candidates and parties?       .1 out of ...
Since average Alberta income in 2010 is:       $70,826 (Statistics Canada, 2011).       With the rationalization that 10% ...
Campaign ExpenditureAre there campaign expenditure limits on candidates and parties?        0 out of .1        Research Fi...
charities; prohibited corporations; and trade unions or organized labor groups not defined       by the Election Finances ...
employment, or a loan of any kind in exchange for a vote or promise of a vote, or as a       reward for declining to vote ...
Electoral officers have the authority of a justice of the peace and are responsible for       maintaining peace and order ...
Provided a treatment centre or supportive living facility houses at least 10 eligible voters,       it must be contacted b...
Total score for the electoral fairness of candidate and party influence: 51 percent out of 100percent.Analysis:Alberta rec...
The pie illustrates the level of fairness of the Alberta legislation on candidate and party influence. Foundation for Demo...
Chapter Four: Voter InfluenceChapter four will focus on the FDA research and audit results of Albertan laws on voterinflue...
The FDA voter influence audit focuses on the following sub-sections not including relevant sub-sections from other section...
Blackout PeriodIs the length of the campaign blackout period reasonable?       0 out of .2       Research Findings:       ...
Freedom of Speech and AssemblyIs the freedom of speech and assembly established through constitutional or legislative law?...
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in...5
×

Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report

1,739

Published on

The 2012 FDA electoral fairness audit of Alberta's legislative level of government uses new matrices in the audit process as outlined to the Research Methodology section of the report. These matrices are more comprehensive of electoral systems than previous FDA audits, and therefore, the use of the new matrices may result in higher electoral fairness scores.

FDA auditors measured Alberta with a 54% overall electoral fairness score. (0% is the lowest score attainable; 50% is the minimum passing grade; 100% is the maximum and reasonably attainable score.)

Published in: News & Politics
0 Comments
0 Likes
Statistics
Notes
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Views
Total Views
1,739
On Slideshare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
1
Actions
Shares
0
Downloads
14
Comments
0
Likes
0
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Alberta--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report

  1. 1. 2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta’s Provincial Electoral SystemIn terms of its legislated process, the Alberta provincial electoral system received an overallunacceptable electoral fairness score of 52.2 percent (out of a reasonably attainable score of100 percent). In addition, the Alberta system received two unacceptable passing scores andtwo unacceptable failing scores in the four audit sections.The FDA believes that these scores reflect both a strong core electoral process, and yetsignificant deficiencies in the areas of electoral finance and political content of media. TheFDA argues that the Alberta electoral process, in particular, dominance by the premier andcabinet of the Legislative Assembly, non-regulation of major media, high caps oncontributions and third party spending, inclusion of corporations and unions in the electoralprocess, and no campaign expenditure limits, undermines the legitimacy of Albertasdemocracy.The FDA believes that the Alberta electoral system requires reform in order to create a basisfor an equal playing field for candidates and parties and a broad and balanced electoraldiscourse. The FDA believes that the implementation of its reform recommendations willcreate an informed electorate, competitive elections, and an Alberta Legislature that moresignificantly reflects the voice of the people from its districts. Electoral Fairness Audit Completed February 28, 2012. Updated April 13, 2012. Updated June 28, 2012.
  2. 2. Prepared by Mr. Stephen Garvey, Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, University of British Columbiaand Master of Philosophy in Environment and Development, University of Cambridge.Purpose of Alberta Electoral Fairness Audit:The purpose of the Foundation for Democratic Advancement (FDA)’s electoral fairness audit (the“Audit”) is to determine a comprehensive grade for electoral fairness in Alberta at the legislative levelof government. This Audit is an extension of the FDA’s global audit of electoral fairness involving allcountries that hold political elections. The purpose of the global audit is to quantify electoral fairness,establish benchmarks for electoral fairness, identify areas of democratic advancement and progression,and encourage democracy reform where needed.The goal of the FDAs Alberta report is to give the people of Alberta and other stakeholders aninformed, objective perspective of the Alberta provincial electoral system and providerecommendations for reform of the system. Albertans may want to use this information as a way to helpdetermine their 2012 electoral choices. The release of the FDA Alberta report just prior to the 2012Alberta Election coincides with this initiative.The views in this electoral fairness audit are the views of the FDA only. The FDA’s members are in noway affiliated with Elections Alberta or any of Albertas registered/non-registered political parties. TheAudit is an independent assessment based on objectivity, transparency and non-partisanship. The FDAassumes no responsibility or liability for any errors in the measurement and calculation of its auditresults or inaccuracies in its research of relevant Albertan legislation.About the Foundation for Democratic Advancement:The Foundation for Democratic Advancement is a non-partisan and independent democracy reform andadvocacy organization. The FDAs reforms center on increasing the voice of people in constituencies.Members of the FDA embrace the following principles: progress, innovation, objectivity, andtransparency. The FDAs mission is to advance fair and transparent democratic processes whereverelections occur, thereby bringing the people to the forefront democratic discourse. (For moreinformation on the FDA visit: www.democracychange.org)© 2012, Foundation for Democratic AdvancementAll rights reserved.Foundation for Democratic Advancement728 Northmount Drive NWP.O. Box 94, Calgary, Alberta,Canada, T2K 1P0An online version of this report can be found at: www.democracychange.orgFor further information and/or comments please contact the FDA at info@democracychange.org
  3. 3. Table of Contents:Introduction 5Chapter 1: Electoral Finance 6Chapter Summary 6Introduction 6Audit Results 7Analysis 13Chapter 2 Political Content of the Media 15Chapter Summary 15Introduction 15Audit Results 16Analysis 19Chapter 3: Candidate and Party Influence 21Chapter Summary 21Introduction 21Audit Results 22Analysis 40Chapter 4: Voter Influence 42Chapter Summary 42Introduction 42Audit Results 43Analysis 59 Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 3
  4. 4. Chapter 5: Overall Audit Results 61Chapter 6: Analysis 63Chapter 7: Conclusion 67Chapter 8: Recommendations 69References 72Definition of Key Terms 75History of the Alberta Political System 78Research Methodology 82Appendix 1: Alberta Legislation Excerpts on the Four Audit Sections 86Electoral Finance 86Political Content of Media 94Candidate and Party Influence 97Voter Influence 122FDA Audit Team And Associates 126 Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 4
  5. 5. Introduction:The FDA audit of Albertas electoral legislation is based on non-partisanship and objectivity.The audit process entails three major components: 1. Research of Albertas electoral legislation. 2. Audit of the legislation based on audit team consensus, and FDA matrices and scoring scales. 3. Analysis of findings.The value of scores in the FDA matrices are based on fundamental democratic principles oflegislative neutrality, political freedom, and political fairness, and the comparative impact ofvariables on democracy. For example, if there is no electoral finance transparency then this resultwill impact other sections such as the legislative process, because without financial transparency,it will be difficult to enforce electoral finance laws and prevent and discover electoral financewrongdoing. Consequently, according to the FDA scoring system, zero financial transparencywill result in a zero score for legislative process as well.The FDA research component is objective, because it is simply a compilation of the legislativeand financial data for Alberta.The FDA audit component is both objective and subjective. It is objective when determining yesand no facts, such as does province A have caps on electoral contributions—yes or no? It issubjective because of the predetermined scores for each audit section, and the scores given foreach section. The FDA acknowledges that there is no absolute scoring system.The FDA minimizes subjectivity through non-partisanship, the predetermination of scores basedon consensus of FDA auditors, the application of core democratic concepts such as electorallegislative neutrality, political freedom, and political fairness, and the valuation of thecomparative impact of variables on democracy. In addition, the FDA has a minimum quorum offive experienced auditors during audit sessions. For further discussion of the FDA methodologyplease see the Research Methodology chapter on page 83. Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 5
  6. 6. Chapter One: Electoral FinanceChapter one will focus on the FDA research and audit results of Albertan electoral finance lawswith respect to the electoral fairness.Chapter Summary: Alberta received an unacceptable failing score of 47.7 percent (out of areasonably attainable 100 percent score) for the fairness of its electoral finance legislation. TheFDA measured deficiency in 52.3 percent of the Alberta legislation. The FDA found electoralfairness in the following: public transparency of electoral finances, caps on contributions tocandidates, parties, and constituency associations, caps on third party spending, and reasonablelegislative process to enforce electoral finance laws. The FDA found electoral unfairness in thefollowing: no candidate and party expenditure limits, caps on contributions to parties that are notreflective of Alberta per capita income and income inequality, and no laws that disallowcorporations and unions from making electoral contributions and spending as third parties. Thelevel and areas of electoral unfairness measured by the FDA suggest that electoral finance reformis necessary in order to encourage an equal candidate and party playing field, a broader and morebalanced electoral discourse, and ultimately a more informed electorate.Introduction:This chapter focuses on the Alberta electoral finance laws and the FDAs audit of them in termsof electoral fairness. Based on the political concepts of egalitarianism and political liberalism,the FDA audit team audits electoral finance laws according to their equity for registeredcandidates and parties, and equity for voters (see Definition of Key Terms and ResearchMethodology for more explanation). Also, based on the concepts of one person, one vote andgovernment of the people, by the people, and for the people, the FDA auditors assume that apeoples representative democracy will disallow corporations and unions from making electoralcontributions and spending as third parties, because corporations and unions are not people. TheFDA does not associate electoral expenditures directly with free speech, nor does the FDAbelieve that freedom alone comprises an optimal peoples representative democracy. The FDAbelieves that freedom must be balanced with equity, so that the most powerful (economically andpolitically) do not dominate and the will of people from districts is reflected in the representativegovernment. The FDA audit team audits from the standpoint of a peoples representativedemocracy.The FDA electoral finance audit focuses on the following sub-sections: 1. electoral finance transparency; 2. contributions to candidates and parties; 3. caps on contributions to candidates and parties; 4. campaign expenditure limits; 5. caps on third party spending; 6. legislative process. Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 6
  7. 7. The FDA chose these sub-sections because they represent core areas of electoral finance. Basedon the concept of political liberalism (as defined in Research Methodology), electoral financetransparency is weighted the highest due to its importance in preventing corruption and fraud,and informing the public on the sources of candidate and party funds. The FDA audit of electoralfinance includes research of Albertas electoral finance legislation and the application of theresearch to the FDA matrices. Matrix scoring is based on an overall score of 0 to 10 out of 10.What follows are the audits results for each sub-section of Albertas electoral finance legislation.It shows the matrix question, the individual audit scores, and the research findings:Electoral Finance TransparencyAre candidate and party finances transparent to the public? 2.0 out of 2.0 Legislative Process: The Chief Electoral Officer may examine all financial statements and affairs of all political candidates, election campaigns and registered third parties (Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act, Article 4). All records must be maintained for a period of at least three years (Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act, Article 10.1). All documents filed with the Chief Electoral Officer are public records and available upon request during normal business hours (Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act, Article 11). Any campaign funds not used are held in trust, to be used during the next election. These funds may be transferred to the registered party that supported the candidates bid for election in the previous election. If the candidate is not nominated for the following election, he is to transfer these funds to the registered party or candidates that supported his bid in the previous election. If funds cannot be transferred, they are transferred to the Crown (Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act, Article 12). All contributions must be deposited in the account registered with the Chief Electoral Officer (Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act, Article 14). Every candidate, constituency association and political party must have a chief financial officer who is not eligible for election and is appointed prior to the party registering with the Chief Electoral Officer. Contributions may only be accepted by the chief financial officer or another person who is deemed authorized to accept contributions, according to the records of the Chief Electoral Officer (Election Finances and Contributions Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 7
  8. 8. Disclosure Act, Article 29, 31). A third party must register if it has or plans to incur expenses of $1,000 or more, or makes advertising contributions of $1,000 or more (Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act, Article 9.1).Contributions to Candidates and PartiesAre contributions restricted to citizens?Are contributions disallowed by foreigners, public institutions, and charities?Are anonymous contributions set at a reasonable level? 0 out of 0.5 0.5 out of 0.5 0.5 out of 0.5 Research Findings: No Party or Candidate may accept contributions unless they are registered. Requirements: must be non-profit, funds must be deposited within a financial institution in a registered account, must file a report of contributions and expenditures at the end of each tax year (before April 1) (Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act, Article 6). No contributions to registered parties, constituency associations, and candidates from non-Alberta corporations and trade unions, public post-secondary institutions, prohibited corporations, school boards, Métis settlements, municipalities, and provincial corporations (Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act, Definition of prohibited corporation). No contribution of funds may be made if said funds do not belong to the contributor or originate out of province. During a campaign period, a provincial party may accept a maximum $150 per candidate from a registered federal political party (Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act, Articles 34, 35, 36). Anonymous contributions are not allowed in excess of $50. Those in excess must be returned to the contributor. If this cannot happen, it must be paid into the general revenue fund through the Chief Electoral Officer (Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act, Article 21.1). Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 8
  9. 9. Caps on Contributions to Candidates and PartiesAre there caps on contributions to candidates and parties?Are the caps on candidates and parties contributions reflective of mean total income?Are there caps on contributions by candidates to their own campaigns?Are the caps on candidates own contributions reflective of mean total income? 0.25 out of 0.25 0.0811 out of 1.0 0.25 out of 0.25 0.5 out of 0.5 Research Findings: Albertas 2009 mean total income is $35,250 (Statistics Canada, 2011). In any year contributions may not exceed $15,000 for a registered party and $1,000 for a registered constituency association (only during a campaign period) and $5,000 in aggregate for registered constituency associations of each registered party (Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act, Article 17). In any campaign period, contributions may not exceed $30,000 to registered parties less any contributions made that calendar year, and $2,000 to any registered candidates (only during a campaign period) and $10,000 in the aggregate to registered candidates of each registered party (Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act, Article 17). Contributions to a candidate may only be made during an election period (Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act, Article 17). No party or candidate may knowingly accept contributions greater than these limits (Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act, Article 19). Goods, services or gifts that do not exceed $50 are not considered contributions, and are not to be transferred, but are recorded under the gross amount (Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act, Article 12). Contributions other than money must be valued at market value at the time of the election (Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act, Article 44.31). The unanimous decision of the FDA audit team is that 10% of personal mean income is a reasonable limit to contribute to candidates and parties. 10% of average income is $3,525. Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 9
  10. 10. The maximum contribution is $40,000. 3525/40000 = .0881 0.0881 out of 1.0 (FDA Audit Team, 2012). Registered candidates own contributions to their own campaigns are subject to the contribution limits to registered candidates ($2,000 limit) (Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act, Article 17). Based on the 2009 Alberta mean total income of $35,250 (Statistics Canada, 2011), the FDA auditors think that $2,000 is a reasonable limit on contributions by candidates to their own campaigns. The FDA auditors believe that candidates would likely be more willing to contribute to their own campaigns than to others, and that if candidates did not have personal financial resources to cover the $2,000 limit, they have the opportunity to raise electoral monies through contributions from citizens and corporations and fund raising events. Further, a $2,000 difference in campaign contributions by candidates, for example, will likely not determine the election results for a particular constituency (FDA Audit Team, 2012).Campaign Expenditure LimitsAre there campaign expenditure limits on candidates and parties?Are there public subsidies or other financial instruments for candidates and parties? 0 out of 0.5 0 out of 0.25 Research Findings: There are no electoral expenditure limits on registered candidates and parties (FDA researchers could find no Alberta legislation that placed direct limits on electoral expenditures). In contrast, the Canadian federal electoral system has candidate expenditure limits on each constituency based on location and size of population, and expenditures limits on political parties based on the number of candidates endorsed by each party (FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Canada, Electoral Finance, 2011). FDA researchers could find no legislation on public subsidies, ergo, conclude that there are no provincial subsidies of candidates, parties, or third parties. Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 10
  11. 11. Caps on Third Party SpendingAre there caps on third party spending?If there is third party spending, is it restricted to citizens only?If there are caps on third party spending, are they attainable, reasonably, by all adult citizens?Are there public subsidies or other financial instruments that create an equal level of third partyspending? 0.25 out of 0.25 0 out of 0.5 0.0294 out of 0.25 0 out of 0.25 Research Findings: Albertas 2009 mean total income is $35,250 (Statistics Canada, 2011). Third party expenditure is limited to $15,000 in one calendar year and $30,000 in year of an election less any expenditure made that year (Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act, Article 44.2(3)). Those who may not register as a third party are: individuals that are not permanent residents of Alberta; corporations that do not carry out business in Alberta; registered charities; prohibited corporations; and trade unions or organized labor groups not defined by the Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act (Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act, Article 9.1). No advertising contribution may be made or used unless it is by someone registered as a third party and subject to the same limits (Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act, Article 44.2). The FDA assumes that all corporations and unions can afford the $30,000 expenditure. $30,000 limit on third party expenditure in election year. 10% of income equals 3,525. 3525/30000 = .1175 0.1175 out of .25 (max score) = 0.0294 (FDA Audit Team, 2012). There are no provincial subsidies of candidates and parties, and third parties (FDA researchers could find no legislation on public subsidies). Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 11
  12. 12. Legislative ProcessIs legislative process to enforce the electoral finance laws?Is there an effective legislative process to enforce electoral finance laws? 0.25 out of 0.25 0.15 out of 0.75 Research Findings: Alberta has comprehensive laws and regulations for the enforcement of the Alberta Election Act. There are established fines and persecution through the Provincial Courts that covers both offenses and violations to the Election Act and electoral corruption. However, the Chief Electoral Officer is only person who has the power to proceed with prosecution under the Election Act (Election Act, Articles 154-184). The maximum fine for contraventions for registered parties is $10,000 and $1,000 for registered candidates and constituency associations. The maximum fine for a general offence is $10,000 for corporations and trade unions, and $1,000 for individuals. Maximum fines for third party advertising violations are $10,000 for an individual and $100,000 for corporations and unions. There are no prison sentences for electoral infractions in Alberta. (Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act, Articles 45- 53). Based on low general fines of $10,000 for corporations (except for third party fines), low fines for registered candidates and individuals, and no prison sentences, the FDA auditors determine a 20% score. (The FDA auditors assume that a fine $200,000 and/or 1 or more years imprisonment is effective against corporations, and $5,000 fine and/or 1 or more years imprisonment is effective against individuals). 20% of .75 = .15 The Court may order parties to bear their own costs for an appeal and/or recount. Depending on the situation, costs may be paid by the Crown in right of Alberta (Election Act, Article 148.1). Finances Act does not apply to leadership conventions within political parties (Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act, Article 2). Finances Act does not apply to leadership conventions within political parties (Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act, Article 2).Total score for the electoral fairness of electoral finance: 47.7 percent out of 100 percent. Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 12
  13. 13. Analysis:Alberta received a score of 47.7 percent for the electoral fairness of its electoral financelegislation (see pie below). Based on FDA scoring scales, the score is 2.3 percent below theminimum passing score of 50 percent. This reflects unacceptable scores overall in electoralfinance legislation. Auditors found that public transparency of electoral finances could be acatalyst for reform of others areas of Albertas electoral finance legislation. Barring this potentialfor reform, the FDA found that Alberta has a large area of electoral finance deficiency (52.3percent); illustrated by high caps on contributions to parties and third party spending, nocampaign expenditure limits, and no laws that disallow corporations/unions from contributingand spending as third parties.High caps on contributions and third party spending allow Alberta corporations/unions andwealthy Albertans to disproportionately influence electoral discourse. With no equitablecampaign expenditure limits, candidates and parties have unequal electoral funds, which againcan create an imbalanced electoral discourse, and ultimately impact how Albertans vote. Thereare no measures in the electoral system to create equitable electoral finances for candidates andparties. Consequently, there has been gross electoral finance disparities over the last twoprovincial elections, in which the PC party has had more than double the campaign financescompared to all the other parties combined (Public Interest Alberta; Lisac, 2004). To illustrate, inthe 2008 Alberta general election, the PC Party had 36 percent more political contributions thanall the other parties (seven) combined ($2,285,789 to $1,463,593) (Foundation for DemocraticAdvancement, 2012). The FDA finds this inequitable political environment antagonistic to abroad and balanced electoral discourse and informed electorate.Further, with no campaign expenditure limits, the FDA argues that the Alberta electoral system isrewarding candidates and parties who can raise the most money and have the ability to raisefunds. The FDA believes that fund-raising and the ability to raise funds are not necessarily anindication of popular support; rather, they are an indication of voter influence. This is likelylinked to high income inequality, and is therefore skewed to the wealthier segments of society.Moreover, larger, more established political parties, due to their experience, network, andresources, have an advantage over small and new parties in fund-raising.The FDA believes that the following reforms will create a political environment based on issuesand backgrounds rather than financial interests and fund-raising capabilities: reasonablyattainable caps on contributions to parties, no corporation/union contributions or third partyspending, and a reasonably attainable expenditure limit on campaign finances. To argue thatcontributions and third party spending should not be restricted because they are an extension offreedom of speech and popular support (see US Supreme Court, Citizens United v. FederalElection Commission, January 21, 2010), begs the question as to why they are needed, if thepopular support is determined by the electorate on Election Day? The FDA argues that equatingspeech with electoral spending assumes erroneously that fund raising is necessarily linked topopular support. Further, unlimited freedom to contribute and spend electorally may limit the Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 13
  14. 14. freedom of speech of others who are not able to contribute and spend, thereby their voice may beovershadowed, for example, by the voice of powerful money interests. The pie illustrates the level of fairness of the Alberta legislation on electoral finance. Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 14
  15. 15. Chapter Two: Political Content of MediaChapter two will focus on the FDA research and audit results of Albertan laws on politicalcontent of media and with respect to electoral fairness.Chapter Summary: Alberta received a score of 45 percent for the electoral fairness of its medialaws. The score means that 55 percent of Albertas media laws are unsatisfactory. The FDA foundelectoral fairness in the following areas: legislative freedom of media, and disclosurerequirements on electoral surveys/polls. The FDA found electoral unfairness in the followingareas: no requirement for impartial and balanced political coverage before and during thecampaign period, and no media ownership concentration laws or equivalent. The level and areasof electoral unfairness measured by the FDA suggest that media reform is necessary in order toencourage a broad and balanced electoral discourse, an equal playing field for candidates andparties, and ultimately a more informed electorate. The FDA argues that Albertas medialegislation deficiencies result from a disparity between media freedom and political equality.Introduction:This chapter focuses on Albertas media laws and the FDAs audit of them. Based on the conceptsof egalitarianism and political liberalism, the FDA audit team examines media laws according tothe standard of impartial and balanced political coverage before, during and after a campaignperiod (see Definition of Key Terms and Research Methodology for further explanation). Basedon the concepts of one person, one vote and government of the people, by the people, and forthe people, the FDA assumes that impartial and balanced political coverage by media supportsdemocracy by promoting a broad and balanced electoral discourse and a more informedelectorate. The FDA demands balance between media freedom and equity of media coverage sothat the most powerful media and government players do not dominate electoral discourse.The FDAs media legislation audit focuses on the following sub-sections: 1. impartial and balanced political coverage; 2. media ownership concentration laws; 3. surveys/polls; 4. freedom of media; 5. press code of practice/conduct.The FDA chose these sub-sections because they represent core areas of the political content ofmedia. Based on the concept of political liberalism and the importance of freedom of expressionin a democracy, freedom of media is weighted the highest of the five sub-sections. The FDAsaudit of media includes research of Albertas media legislation and then application of theresearch to the FDA matrices. The matrix scoring is based on an overall score of 0 to 10 out of10. Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 15
  16. 16. What follows are the audit results for each sub-section of Albertas media legislation. It showsthe matrix question, the individual audit scores, and the research findings:Impartial and Balanced Political CoverageDuring the campaign period, is the media (private and public) required legally topublish/broadcast impartial/balanced coverage of registered candidates and parties? 0 out of 2Outside of the campaign period is the media required legally to publish/broadcastpluralistic/balanced coverage of registered parties? 0 out of 1 Research Findings: There is no provincial requirements that radio and television broadcasters have to be non- partisan and balanced in their electoral coverage (1986 Radio Regulations, Article 6; 1987 Television Broadcasting Regulations). Alberta press is guided by freedom of the press and a non-enforceable Code of Practice through the Alberta Press Council (Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms; Alberta Press Council, Code of Practice).Media Ownership Concentration LawsAre there media ownership concentration laws? 0 out of .5If there is no requirement legally of media plurality, impartiality, and balanced content or mediaownership concentration laws, are there any other laws that are effective in causing a plurality ofpolitical discourse before and during an election period? 0 out of 1 Research Findings: Alberta has no media concentrations laws, which would support plurality of electoral discourse. FDA researchers could find no media concentration laws. (In Norway, France, and Bolivia, there are media ownership concentrations laws which support the plurality of electoral discourse (FDA Electoral Fairness Audit Reports on Norway, France, and Bolivia, 2011).) Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 16
  17. 17. Surveys/PollsAre there reasonable public disclosure requirements on surveys and polls in terms of theirmethodology, data, and funder? .5 out of .5 Research Findings: Election surveys must include information regarding: who sponsored the survey, who conducted the survey, the date it was conducted, the population that the sample was drawn from, the number of people polled, and the margin of error (Election Act, Article 135.2). If recognized statistical methods are not employed in a survey, this must be made clear (Election Act, Article 135.3). No new election survey results that have not been already released may be released during the blackout period 24 hours before the election (Election Act, Article 135.4). (In Bolivia, election propaganda including polls and surveys are not allowed 48 hours prior to the Election Day (FDA Electoral Fairness Audit Report on Bolivia, 2011). In France, there is no commercial political advertisement 3 months prior to an election period; election propaganda during a campaign period must allow candidates adequate time to respond (FDA Electoral Fairness Audit Report on France, 2011). In Egypt (under Mubarak), polls and surveys are not allowed 7 days prior to the Election Day (FDA Electoral Fairness Audit Report on Egypt, 2011). Survey results previously released to the public prior to the ‘blackout period’ can be transmitted again to the public (Election Act, Article 135.4).Freedom of the MediaIs the freedom of the media (including journalists) established through constitutional orlegislative law? 4 out of 4 Research Findings: Television broadcast licensees may not broadcast anything which contravenes the law or exposes anyone to discrimination based on race, religion, color, sex, sexual orientation, age, or disability. They also may not broadcast anything false or misleading (1987 Television Broadcasting Regulations, Article 5). Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 17
  18. 18. Radio broadcasters must maintain a program log for one year, which will contain content and subject information for each program or advertisement aired. This log must be made available to a commission if requested (1986 Radio Regulations, Article 8). There is freedom of the Alberta press, radio, and broadcasters (Canadian Charter on Rights and Freedoms). There are no legislative restrictions on the journalistic profession in caring out their work The FDA could find no legislative provisions that guarantee the access of journalists to government sources, representatives, or officials.Press Code of Practice/ConductDoes a Code of Practice/Conduct that supports impartial, balanced electoral coverage guide thepress? 0 out of .25 Research Findings: Alberta press is guided by freedom of the press and a non-enforceable Code of Practice through the Alberta Press Council (Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms; Alberta Press Council, Code of Practice). There are no provisions in the Alberta Press Council’s Code of Practice that require non- partisan and balanced electoral coverage (Alberta Press Council, Code of Practice). The Alberta Press Council’s Code of Practice has provisions for a right of reply, but the Code is not enforced by the Council. Council does not monitor press companies, assumes they have their own codes of practice, and does not tell them what to publish (Alberta Press Council, about page on website). Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 18
  19. 19. Analysis:Based on the FDA scoring scales, Alberta scored 45 percent for the political content of media, 5percent below the minimum passing score of 50 percent. The score reflects more electoralunfairness than electoral fairness in the political content on media. The results demonstrate alarge area that could compromise Alberta’s election results in the coming election.Based on legislated freedom of the media and disclosure requirements on survey/polls, the FDAscored 45 percent electoral fairness in media legislation. FDA matrices weigh freedom ofexpression the highest due to its relevance to democracy. In the media section, freedom of themedia represents 40 percent of the total score and Alberta received full percentage points in thisarea. However, FDA Freedom and Democracy podcasts (2011) revealed that freedom alonecannot guarantee democracy. Without monitors to ensure equality, freedom of the media willallow the most powerful and wealthy individuals and organizations to dominate the politicalprocess. The FDA concludes that Alberta does not monitor freedom of the media in order toguarantee equality.There is no legislative requirement in Alberta for impartial, balanced or pluralistic politicalmedia coverage. There are no media concentration laws or equivalent to encourage a pluralisticmedia and prevent significant concentration of media ownership. There are no public subsidymeasures to help encourage balanced campaign coverage, and ultimately, balanced electoraldiscourse. The Alberta Press Councils Code of Practice does not mandate impartial/balancedpolitical or campaign coverage. These findings suggest that Albertas media is susceptible topartisan, imbalanced political and campaign coverage, and limited coverage from few sources. Amedia network with significant ownership rights in television, radio, and the press coulddominate the Alberta electoral discourse, just as a media ownership oligopoly with similarviewpoints could do likewise. Alberta legislation allows for this possibility, as demonstrated inthe 2004 Alberta Provincial Election. Election coverage mentioned the the ProgressiveConservatives 58% of the time, the Liberals 16% of the time, and the NDP only 12% of the time(Wesley and Colborne, 2005).The FDA argues that an electorate that is informed in the platforms of all relevant politicalparties will greatly impact the outcome of the election. It is essential for Albertas democracy tohave, at minimum, balanced and pluralistic campaign coverage. There are public policy optionsavailable; as illustrated by media ownership concentration laws in Norway, France, and Bolivia,or legal requirements for fair and balanced political coverage and public measures to ensure fairand balanced campaign coverage in Venezuela (FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Reports onNorway, France, Bolivia, and Venezuela, 2011). Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 19
  20. 20. The pie illustrates the level of fairness of the Alberta legislation on political content of media.Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 20
  21. 21. Chapter Three: Candidate and Party InfluenceChapter three will focus on the FDA research and audit results of Albertan laws on candidateand party influence and with respect to the electoral fairness.Chapter Summary: Alberta received a score of 51 percent for the electoral fairness of itslegislation on candidate and party influence. The score indicates that Albertas laws on candidateand party influence scored slightly higher than satisfactory in areas overall. The FDA foundelectoral fairness in the following areas: reasonable length of the campaign period, reasonableand fair process to determine electoral boundaries, reasonable registration requirements ofcandidates and parties, electoral complaints process for candidates and parties, fair presentationof candidates on ballots, scrutineers at polling stations, disclosure requirements on surveys/polls,legislated freedom of speech and assembly, public transparency of electoral finances, caps oncontributions to candidates, parties, and constituency associations, caps on third party electoralspending, reasonable legislative process to enforce the Election Act, and reasonable votingprocedures including voter assistance, protection, and registration requirements. The FDA foundelectoral unfairness in the following areas: no candidate and party expenditure limits, caps oncontributions to parties that are not reflective of Alberta per capita income and income inequalitydata, no laws that disallow corporations/unions from making electoral contributions andspending as third parties, no proportional representation, and a less reasonable governmentprocess. The FDA argues that these areas of electoral unfairness may allow some parties anunfair financial advantage over other parties through their access to wealthy segments of Albertasociety and/or their ability to raise funds. The FDA believes that in the areas of electoralunfairness, reform is necessary in order to encourage equal levels of candidate and partyinfluence, broad and balanced electoral discourse, and an informed electorate.IntroductionThis chapter focuses on Alberta laws pertaining to candidate and party influence. Based onconcepts of egalitarianism and political liberalism, the FDA audit team examines election lawsaccording to their equity for registered candidates and parties (see Definition of Key Terms andResearch Methodology for further explanation). Based on the concepts of one person, one voteand government of the people, by the people, and for the people, the FDA auditors assume that arepresentative democracy supports equitable treatment of candidates and parties. The FDAargues that political freedom alone does not guarantee a democratic process, but that democracyalso requires political equality.The FDAs candidate and party influence audit focuses on the following sub-sections notincluding relevant sub-sections from other audit sections: 1. Campaign period; 2. methodology for determining winners of districts; 3. electoral boundaries; Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 21
  22. 22. 4. process of government; 5. registration of candidates; 6. registration of parties; 7. electoral complaints; 8. electoral lists and ballots; 9. scrutineers; 10. candidates and party campaign advertisements.The FDA chose the sub-sections above and relevant sub-sections from other sections becausethey represent core areas of candidate and party influence. Based on the concepts ofegalitarianism and political liberalism (as defined in Research Methodology), freedom of speechand assembly, electoral finance transparency, and process of government have the highestweight. The FDA audit of candidate and party influence includes research of Albertas legislationpertaining to candidate and party influence and then application of the research to the FDAmatrices. Matrix scoring is based on an overall score from 0 to 10 out of 10.What follows are the audit results for each sub-section of Albertas candidate and partylegislation. It shows the matrix question, the individual audit scores, and the research findings:Campaign PeriodDoes the length of the campaign period allow reasonably and fairly all registered candidates andparties enough time to share their backgrounds and policies with the voting public? .2 out of .2 Research Findings: The election campaign period is 28 days (Election Act, Article 38.1 (2) and 39). The longer the campaign, the more electoral finances are required, and therefore, the longer campaign favors larger, more established parties over smaller and new parties (FDA audit team, 2012). Based on the rationalization that this is a provincial election and with a provincial population of 3,584,304 (per municpalaffairs.gov.ab.ca), 28 days is a reasonable time frame for all parties to express to the public their platform and ideologies (FDA Audit Team, 2012).Methodology for Determining Winners of DistrictsIs the determination of election winners based on first-past-the-post? 0 out of 0 Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 22
  23. 23. Research Findings: The elections of provincial constituency seats are based on first-past-the-post. The Alberta electoral system is devoid of proportional representation (Election Act, Article 138). First-past-the-post election methods determine the outcome of Alberta elections as stated in the Election Act. First-past-the-post is deficient as compared to proportional based systems in capturing the popular vote. The matrix score for first-past-the-post is 0. This matrix sub-section does not evaluate the merits of coalition governments versus non- coalition governments or minority governments versus majority governments (FDA Audit Team, 2012).Electoral BoundariesIs the process for determining electoral boundaries reasonable and fair for all registeredcandidates and parties? .2 out of .2 Research Findings: Alberta electoral districts are divided by law into 87 electoral divisions with a population within 25 percent of the provincial population average and not below 25 percent the average population excerpt under special considerations. The Alberta Legislature determines the electoral boundaries within the parameters of Alberta law, and the Canadian Charter on Rights and Freedoms. Citizen recourse against the Alberta Legislature in cases of unreasonable electoral divisions that favor a particular political party is to file a lawsuit and publicly expression their views (Electoral Boundaries Commission Act; Proposed Electoral Division Areas, Boundaries, and Names for Alberta, Interim Report to the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta, Introduction, The Law).Process of GovernmentWithin the structure of government do political representatives individually and as governmentbodies have reasonable say in the formation of government policy, legislation etc.,? .125 out of 1 Research Findings: The Alberta government is comprised of a legislative assembly and no senate Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 23
  24. 24. (unicameral). The legislative assembly is made up elected officials. The leader of the party with the most seats in the assembly is the Premier. All provincial legislation must be approved by the Lieutenant Governor, Alberta’s representative of the Queen. Major decisions are made by Alberta cabinet, which is chaired by the Premier and comprised of MLAs from the political party with the majority of seats in Assembly. For bills to pass they need at least simple majority of the Assembly. Bills that have the support of the Alberta cabinet likely pass, while bills that do not have support of the Cabinet likely do not pass (Service Alberta, Structure of Government; Legislative Assembly Act, Article 7 Bills and Acts; The Citizen’s Guide to Alberta Legislature, Powers of Government and Making Law). Based on the rationalization that the process is currently monopolized by the winning party with as little as 12.5% of popular support, the FDA thinks a fair process would ensure that the dominant party have obtained at least 50% plus one vote of the popular vote, if not, then “another process of government should be proposed”, is reasonable. Another process of government would ensure that the will of the people, as reflected in the electoral vote, is reflective by the distribution of political power in the Legislative Assembly. In the 2012 Alberta provincial election, there are 8 registered parties, and based on this, a minimum win and control of the Alberta Legislature is 12.5% of the Alberta popular vote. The score 1 times 12.5% equals 0.125 (FDA Audit Team, 2012).Registration of CandidatesAre the registration requirements of candidates reasonable and based on reasonable popularsupport rather than finances? .2 out of .2 Research Findings: A candidate must necessarily be: a Canadian citizen; 18 years old; a resident of Alberta for six months continuously up to polling day; registered under section 9 of the Election Finances Act; and nominated by 25 or more electors. Candidates must not be: a prison inmate; or a member of the senate or House of Commons (Election Act, Article 56; Alberta Election Act, Article 59). Candidates must be nominated to be on the electoral lists. Candidates need at least 25 signed support by eligible electors in the electoral division and make a deposit of $500 (Election Act, Articles 56-61). The FDA auditors think that the registration of candidates are reasonable. As with the Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 24
  25. 25. registration with parties, the FDA thinks that there should be a reasonable democratic barrier of entry for candidates and parties. The requirement of popular support of 25 or more electors is more than reasonable and if anything low. The FDA does not support money as a registration requirement because it is not necessarily reflective of popular support. Yet, candidates are required to make a $500 deposit. The FDA accepts this deposit as reasonable on grounds that it is at a modest level, and it makes up for the support of just 25 electors (FDA Audit Team, 2012).Registration of PartiesAre the registration requirements of parties reasonable and based on reasonable popular supportrather than finances? .2 out of .2 Research Findings: For political parties to be registered, they need a party name approved by the Chief Electoral Officer and have signatures of support from at least 0.3 percent of the number of electors eligible to vote at the last general election or by having endorsed candidates for at least half of the electoral division in the province at an upcoming general election (Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act, Article; Elections Alberta). Parties must be registered with the Chief Electoral Officer. The Chief Electoral Officer may not register the party if the name of the party is likely to be confused with another or a former party, or name or abbreviation is unacceptable to the officer for “any reason” (Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act, Article 7). The registration of Alberta parties are based on either 0.3 percent popular voter support or having endorsed candidates in half of the Alberta electoral divisions. There is no financial component to registering a party. The FDA thinks that a democratic barrier of entry for parties is important to keep out less serious parties and parties with minimal popular support. The barriers of 0.3 percent of popular support or having at least endorsed candidates in 50 percent of the districts are fair and democratic barrier to entries. Venezuela for example has a barrier of entry for parties of 0.5 percent popular support, and the FDA supports this as a reasonable democratic barrier. The barrier has to be reasonably high to prevent less serious and unpopular parties, and yet at the same time not too high to prevent, for example, new emerging popular parties. Total population of Alberta: 3,584,304 0.3% of Alberta population equals 10,753. Total eligible voters in the 2008 Alberta provincial election: 2,252,104 Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 25
  26. 26. 0.3% of eligible voters equals 6,756 number of required support. Or per the law requiring endorsed candidates at least half of the electoral divisions, equates to, in terms of registration cost, 42 candidates out of 87 possible candidates (87 total electoral districts) times $500 per candidate equals $22,000 (FDA Audit Team, 2012).Electoral ComplaintsDo candidates and parties have mechanisms in which to file complaints for electoralwrongdoing/fraud? .2 out of .2Are there reasonable mechanisms to enforce candidate and party electoral complaints? .05 out of .1 Research Findings: An application may be submitted for a judicial recount of the ballots. There are only two qualifying bases for this request: ballots were incorrectly rejected or not counted, or the certificate of return does not reflect the number of votes for that candidate (Election Act, Article 144). A judge of the Court of the Queen’s Bench gives the results of a recount (Election Act, Article 147). If the results are not accepted after a recount, a decision by a judge of the Court of the Queens Bench may be appealed. The court may order the parties to bear their own costs for the appeal and/or recount. Depending on the situation, costs may be paid by the Crown in Right of Alberta (Election Act, Articles 148, 148.1). Candidate has the right to inspect all election documents, with the exception of the ballots, up to 30 days following the election (Election Act, Article 152). Chief Electoral Officer oversees the election and may conduct an investigation (Election Act, Article 4.2). Candidates and parties have a right to make a legal petition against the election results or the election of a specific candidate. The petition may be filed with a Alberta judiciary centre within 30 days after election results are deemed published or if the matter pertains to eligibility of the candidate’s nomination any time during the continuation of the Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 26
  27. 27. Legislative Assembly. The petitioner must make a $1,000 deposit to cover fees of the respondent. Also, there is an appeals process for petitions (Election Act, Articles 185- 201). There is no process for candidates and parties to file electoral complaints during the election period (FDA researchers could no find process in Alberta Election Act). There is a comprehensive electoral complaints process for candidates and parties. However, the complaints process is focused on after the election. The FDA believes that the complaints process should occur during the election as well to help protect the integrity of the actual vote, and protect candidates and parties from unlawful electoral acts. Bolivias complaints process includes both before and after an election. However, the FDA acknowledges that a complaints process before an election needs to have safeguards against frivolous electoral complaints (FDA Audit Team, 2012).Electoral Lists and BallotsAre electoral lists presented on ballots in a fair, equitable way for all registered candidates andparties? .1 out of .1 Research Findings: Names of candidates are printed in size 10 font including their given name, middle name, initials or nickname or any combination of them. Names are listed in alphabetical order based on surname (Election Act, Article 79).ScrutineersAre candidates and parties allowed scrutineers at polling stations? .1 out of .1 Research Findings: Candidates may appoint up to four scrutineers to represent the candidate at each polling station or observe the election on the candidates’ behalf (Election Act, Article 79). The following may not be involved with the counting of ballots: individual who are not qualified to vote; individuals who have been convicted of an indictable offense warranting a punishment of greater than 2 years imprisonment in the previous 10 years; candidates; official agents; members of parliament; members of the legislative assembly; and judges (Election Act, Articles 24, 29). Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 27
  28. 28. Candidate and Party AdvertisementDuring the campaign period, do candidates and parties have equal access to radio, television, andprint media for political advertisement, and equal cost of political advertisement? .1 out of .2During the campaign period do candidates and parties political advertisements in media includea public subsidy component to ensure an equality of political advertisement in the media? 0 out of .2Outside of the campaign period, do candidates and parties have equal to radio, television, andprint media for political advertisement, and equal cost of political advertisement? 0 out of .2 Research Findings: Posters are not allowed to be displayed or distributed at polling stations or in the building containing the polling station. If posters are present, a returning officer may cause it to be removed, and is not liable for damage caused by the removal (Election Act, Article 135). No landlord or person acting on the landlords’ behalf may prohibit a tenant from displaying election posters on the premises of his or her unit (Election Act, Article 135.5). During an election, radio and television broadcasters will provide time for programs, advertisements or announcements of a partisan political nature, equitably for all accredited political parties and candidates represented in the election (1986 Radio Regulations, Article 6; 1987 Television Broadcasting Regulations, Article 8). There are no provisions for equitable time for election propaganda outside of the 30 day election period (1986 Radio Regulations; 1987 Television Broadcasting Regulations). Although Alberta has measures for equitable media access for electoral advertisement for all parties during the campaign period, there are no measures for equitable cost of electoral advertisements nor any public subsidies for electoral advertisement. Further, outside the campaign period, there are no measures for equitable access to media for political advertisements or equitable cost of political advertisements. The score of .1 out of .2 reflects the equitable access and yet no measures for equitable cost of electoral advertisements (FDA Audit Team, 2012). Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 28
  29. 29. Impartial and Balanced Political CoverageDuring the campaign period is the media (private and public) required legally topublish/broadcast impartial/balanced coverage of registered candidates and parties? 0 out of .5Outside of the campaign period is the media required legally to publish/broadcastpluralistic/balanced coverage of registered parties? 0 out of .5 Research Findings: There are no provincial requirements that radio and television broadcasters have to be non-partisan and balanced in their electoral coverage (1986 Radio Regulations, Article 6; 1987 Television Broadcasting Regulations). Alberta press is guided by freedom of the press and a non-enforceable Code of Practice through the Alberta Press Council (Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms; Alberta Press Council, Code of Practice).Media Ownership Concentration LawsAre there media ownership concentration laws? 0 out of .1If there are no requirements legally of media plurality, impartiality, and balanced content ormedia ownership concentration laws, are there any other laws/regulations which are effective incausing a plurality of political discourse before and during an election period? 0 out of .2 Research Findings: The FDA maintains that media concentrations laws support plurality in electoral discourse; however, FDA researchers could find no media concentration laws in Alberta. (In Norway, France, and Bolivia, there are media ownership concentrations laws that support the plurality of electoral discourse FDA Electoral Fairness Audit Reports on Norway, France, and Bolivia, 2011).) Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 29
  30. 30. Surveys/PollsAre there reasonable public disclosure requirements on surveys and polls in terms of theirmethodology, data, and funder? .1 out of .1 Research Findings: Election surveys must include information regarding: who sponsored the survey, who conducted the survey, the date it was conducted, the population that the sample was drawn from, the number of people polled, and the margin of error (Election Act, Article 135.2). If recognized statistical methods are not employed in a survey, this must be made clear (Election Act, Article 135.3). No new election survey results that have not been already released may be released during the blackout period 24 hours before the election (Election Act, Article 135.4). (In Bolivia, election propaganda including polls and surveys are not allowed 48 hours prior to the Election Day (FDA Electoral Fairness Audit Report on Bolivia, 2011)). In France, there is no commercial political advertisement 3 months prior to an election period; election propaganda during a campaign period must allow candidates adequate time to respond (FDA Electoral Fairness Audit Report on France, 2011). In Egypt (under Mubarak), polls and surveys are not allowed 7 days prior to the Election Day (FDA Electoral Fairness Audit Report on Egypt, 2011). Survey results previously released to the public prior to the ‘blackout period’ can be transmitted again to the public (Election Act, Article 135.4).Freedom of Speech and AssemblyIs the freedom of speech and assembly established through constitutional or legislative law? 1 out of 1 Research Findings: Citizens have freedom of expression and assembly before, during, and after the election campaign period (Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms). Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 30
  31. 31. Electoral Finance TransparencyAre candidate and party finances transparent to the public? 1 out of 1 Legislative Process: The Chief Electoral Officer may examine all financial statements and affairs of all political candidates, election campaigns and registered third parties (Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act, Article 4). All records must be maintained for a period of at least three years (Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act, Article 10.1). All documents filed with the Chief Electoral Officer are public records and available upon request during normal business hours (Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act, Article 11). Any campaign funds not used are held in trust, to be used during the next election. These funds may be transferred to the registered party that supported the candidates bid for election in the previous election. If the candidate is not nominated for the following election, he is to transfer these funds to the registered party or candidates that supported his bid in the previous election. If funds cannot be transferred, they are transferred to the Crown (Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act, Article 12). All contributions must be deposited in the account registered with the Chief Electoral Officer (Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act, Article 14). Every candidate, constituency association and political party must have a chief financial officer who is not eligible for election and is appointed prior to the party registering with the Chief Electoral Officer. Contributions may only be accepted by the chief financial officer or another person who is deemed authorized to accept contributions, according to the records of the Chief Electoral Officer (Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act, Article 29, 31). A third party must register if it has or plans to incur expenses of $1,000 or more, or makes advertising contributions of $1,000 or more (Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act, Article 9.1). Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 31
  32. 32. Contributions to Candidates and PartiesAre electoral contributions restricted to citizens? 0 out of .2 Research Findings: Albertan citizens, corporations, and unions can make electoral contributions to candidates and parties (FDA Audit Team, 2012).Are electoral contributions disallowed by foreigners, public institutions, and charities? .1 out of .1 Research Findings: No contributions to registered parties, constituency associations, and candidates from non-Alberta corporations and trade unions, public post-secondary institutions, prohibited corporations, school boards, Metis settlements, municipalities, and provincial corporations (Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act, Definition of prohibited corporation). No contribution of funds may be made if said funds do not belong to the contributor or originate out of province. During a campaign period, a provincial party may accept a maximum $150 per candidate from a registered federal political party (Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act, Articles 34, 35, 36).Are anonymous electoral contributions set at a reasonable level? .1 out of .1 Research Findings: Anonymous contributions are not allowed in excess of $50. Those in excess must be returned to the contributor. If this cannot happen, it must be paid into the general revenue fund through the Chief Electoral Officer (Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act, Article 21.1). Based on the 2010 Alberta per capita income of $70,826 and in 2008, the bottom 32.4% of Albertans earned between $0 and $39,999, the FDA auditors find that $50.00 as a limit on anonymous contributions is more than reasonable (FDA Audit Team, 2012). Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 32
  33. 33. Caps on Contributions to Candidates and PartiesAre there caps on contributions to candidates and parties? .1 out of .1 Research Findings: “In any year” contributions may not exceed $15,000 for a registered party and $1,000 for a registered constituency association (only during a campaign period) and $5,000 in aggregate for registered constituency associations of each registered party (Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act, Article 17). “In any campaign period”, contributions may not exceed $30,000 to registered parties less any contributions made that calendar year, and $2,000 to any registered candidates (only during a campaign period) and $10,000 in the aggregate to registered candidates of each registered party (Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act, Article 17). Contributions to a candidate may only be made during an election period (Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act, Article 17). No party or candidate may knowingly accept contributions greater than these limits (Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act, Article 19). Goods, services or gifts that do not exceed $50 are not considered contributions, and are not to be transferred, but are recorded under the gross amount (Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act, Article 12). Contributions other than money must be valued at market value at the time of the election (Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act, Article 44.31).Are the caps on candidates and parties contributions reflective of per capita income levels andincome inequality data? .047 out of .2 Research Findings: Based on the rationalization that 57.9% of Albertans (greater than the majority) makes below $80,000 per capita income (Statistics Canada, 2009, 2011), a great majority of Albertans do not have an equal opportunity to be involved in a fair democratic process. The FDA’s rationale is that considering the per capita income in Alberta and the statistics regarding the income disparity, it is reasonable to state that the $30,000 cap is high. Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 33
  34. 34. Since average Alberta income in 2010 is: $70,826 (Statistics Canada, 2011). With the rationalization that 10% of personal income can be used to contribute to candidates and parties (based on the unanimous decision of the FDA audit team). 10% of average income is $7,082.60 For a $30,000 contribution cap, the percentage of Albertans that can afford this is 23.6% of the population. 76.4% of the Alberta population cannot afford the $30,000 cap. 23.6% of .2 equals .047 (FDA Audit Team, 2012).Are there caps on contributions by candidates to their own campaigns? .1 out of .1 Research Findings: Registered candidates own contributions to their own campaigns are subject to the contribution limits to registered candidates ($2,000 limit) (Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act, Article 17).Are the caps on candidates own contributions reflective of per capita income level and .1 out of .1 Research Findings: Based on the 2010 Alberta per capita income of $70,826 and in 2008, the bottom 32.4% of Albertans earned between $0 and $39,999 (Statistics Canada 2009 and 2011), the FDA auditors think that $2,000 is a reasonable limit on contributions by candidates to their own campaigns. The FDA auditors acknowledge that candidates would likely be more willing to contribute to their own campaigns than otherwise, and that if candidates did not have personal financial resources to cover the $2,000 limit, they have the opportunity to raise electoral monies through contributions from citizens and corporations and fund raising events. Further, a $2,000 difference in campaign contributions by candidates, for example, will likely not determine the election results for a particular constituency (FDA Audit Team, 2012). Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 34
  35. 35. Campaign ExpenditureAre there campaign expenditure limits on candidates and parties? 0 out of .1 Research Findings: There are no electoral expenditure limits on registered candidates and parties. FDA researchers could find no Alberta legislation that placed direct limits on electoral expenditures. (In contrast, the Canadian federal electoral system has candidate expenditure limits on each constituency based on location and size of population, and expenditures limits on political parties based on the number of candidates endorsed by each party (FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Canada, Electoral Finance, 2011).)Are there public subsidies or other financial instruments for candidates and parties? 0 out of .2 Research Findings: FDA researchers could find no legislation on public subsidies, ergo; it concludes that there are no provincial subsidies of candidates and parties, and third parties.Caps on Third-party SpendingAre there caps on third party spending? .1 out of .1 Research Findings: Third party expenditure is limited to $15,000 in one calendar year and $30,000 in year of an election less any expenditure made that year (Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act, Article 44.2(3)).If there is third party spending, is it restricted to citizens only? 0 out of .2 Research Findings: Those who may not register as a third party are: individuals that are not permanent residents of Alberta; corporations which do not carry out business in Alberta; registered Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 35
  36. 36. charities; prohibited corporations; and trade unions or organized labor groups not defined by the Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act (Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act, Article 9.1). No advertising contribution may be made or used unless it is by someone registered as a third party and subject to the same limits (Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act, Article 44.2).If there are caps on third party spending, are they attainable, reasonably, by all adult citizens? 0 out of .1 Research Findings: Based on the rationalization that corporations should have an equal vote as citizens, and individuals make much less than corporations and unions, this is stating that an individual has a similar vote to those of corporations and unions. This is untrue based on the fact that corporations and unions make substantially more money than individuals and only individuals are allowed to vote. Having a cap for individuals, corporations, and unions is unfair, especially to the 57.9% of Albertans making less than $80,000 per year. The FDA assumes that all corporations and unions can afford $30,000 electoral expenditure. Based on previous results, only 23.6% of Albertan individuals can afford $30,000 (FDA Audit Team, 2012).Are there public subsidies or other financial instruments that create an equal level of third partyspending? 0 out of .1 Research Findings: FDA researchers could find no legislation on public subsidies; ergo, it concludes there are no provincial subsidies of candidates and parties, and third parties.Legislative ProcessIs there a reasonable legislative process to enforce electoral laws? .5 out of .5 Research Findings: It is a corrupt practice to offer money, an office, any gift of valuable consideration, Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 36
  37. 37. employment, or a loan of any kind in exchange for a vote or promise of a vote, or as a reward for declining to vote (Election Act, Article 172). Court may order the parties to bear their own costs for the appeal and/or recount. Depending on the situation, costs may be paid by the Crown in right of Alberta (Election Act, Article 148.1). Finances Act does not apply to leadership conventions within political parties (Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act, Article 2). Alberta has comprehensive laws and regulations on the enforcement of the Alberta Election Act. There are established fines and persecution through the Provincial Courts. The enforcement covers the offenses/violations to the Election Act and electoral corruption. However, the Chief Electoral Officer is only person who has the power to proceed with prosecution under the Election Act (Election Act, Articles 154-184).Voter Registration RequirementsAre the voter registration requirements reasonable? .1 out of .1 Research Findings: Voters must be a Canadian citizen, at least 18 years of age, a resident of Alberta for at least 6 months as a date fixed by the Chief Electoral Officer, and ordinarily a resident in the electoral division and subdivision for which the name of the person will be included on the list of electors (Election Act, Article 16).Voter ProtectionAre there reasonable processes that protect voters in carrying the act of voting? .1 out of .1 Research Findings: Polling booths must be arranged in such a way that the voter is screened from observation (Election Act, Article 91). All election officials must take an oath of secrecy and aid in maintaining the secrecy of voting. Any breach of secrecy must be reported to the Chief Electoral Officer (Election Act, Article 93). Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 37
  38. 38. Electoral officers have the authority of a justice of the peace and are responsible for maintaining peace and order at the polling stations. They may request assistance of peace officers or any persons present to aid in maintaining peace and order (Election Act, Article 94). Immediately after a vote is cast, a record is made beside that voters name indicating that he has placed his vote (Election Act, Article 103). No one shall interfere or attempt to interfere with a voter or a voters ballot, attempt to prevent a person from voting, attempt to obtain information regarding who a voter voted for while at a polling place, or enter the voters booth while a voter is marking his ballot (Election Act, Articles 105-106). You may not attempt to remove your ballot or anyone else’s ballot from a polling place. The punishment for doing so is to forfeit the right to vote in the election (Election Act, Article 107). If an individual returns their ballot indicating that they do not wish to mark it, they have forfeited their right to vote in the election. Their ballot will be marked “declined” by the deputy returning officer, and the individual will leave the polling place (Election Act, Article 107.1).Voter AssistanceAre there reasonable processes to assist voters with the act of voting? .1 out of .1 Research Findings: An interpreter may be provided by the returning officer if voter does not speak or understand English to translate and/or answer questions about voting procedure (Election Act, Article 78). Polling stations are open from 9:00 AM to 8:00 PM on both the advanced poll and on the polling day (Election Act, Article 88). Deputy returning officer must assist a voter who due to physical incapacity or inability to read requests assistance. The officer may mark the voter’s ballot but only in the presence of a poll clerk. If the voter is blind and does not wish to be assisted, a blind voter template will be provided with instruction regarding its use. Also, if the voter is accompanied by a friend, the friend may assist the voter by marking the voter’s ballot. The voter and friend will be required to take an oath before voting, and officer will record the type of assistance required, whether by friend or template (Election Act, Article 96). Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 38
  39. 39. Provided a treatment centre or supportive living facility houses at least 10 eligible voters, it must be contacted by a returning officer to decide whether a mobile polling station will be provided to the facility. If a mobile poll is to be provided, the number of said polls, their format, and fixed hours for their operation must be established. A deputy returning officer and poll clerk must be employed for each poll (Election Act, Article 120).Citizens Living AbroadAre there reasonable processes which allow citizens living abroad to vote? .05 out of .1 Research Findings: Citizens who live abroad may vote by special ballot (Election Act, Article 116). Albertans living abroad temporarily can vote via special ballot. Albertans who live abroad and are not ordinarily a resident in an electoral division cannot vote. The score of .1 out of .2 reflects the fact that Albertans living abroad on a permanent or semi-permanent basis are not entitled to vote. The FDA supports the right of voting for Albertans who live abroad (FDA Audit Team, 2012).Inclusion of MinoritiesAre there reasonable measures that support the political representation of minorities anddisadvantaged groups of people? .08 out of .1 Research Findings: There are no laws and regulations that guarantees or supports political representation of minorities in the Legislative Assembly (FDA Researchers, 2012). Based on the rationalizations that Alberta has gone through a significant progressive history of their democratic processes, that there is significant ethnic diversity within the province, every adult citizen has the right to form a party, and all other points we have made such as about the process of government, special balloting, and no serious contending minorities and measures to allow them to vote, there is still no process for ensuring that minorities have political representation in the Alberta Assembly. As a result, the FDA audit team determined a score .08 (FDA Audit Team, 2012). Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 39
  40. 40. Total score for the electoral fairness of candidate and party influence: 51 percent out of 100percent.Analysis:Alberta received a score of 51 percent for candidate and party influence. Based on the FDAscoring scales, the score is 1 percent above the minimum passing score of 50 percent. Resultsindicate that Albertas legislation on candidate and party influence scored slightly abovesatisfactory in areas overall. The FDA found electoral fairness in the following areas: reasonablecandidate, party, and voter registrations requirements, fairness of electoral boundaries, allowancefor scrutineers, reasonable voter protection and measures, and freedom of speech and assembly.The FDA found electoral unfairness in the following areas: no candidate and party campaignexpenditure limits, no legal requirement on the media for impartial and balanced electoralcoverage, weak process of government which allows monopolization by the Alberta cabinet, noproportional representation, no media ownership concentration laws, high cap on contributions toparties, and no laws which disallow corporations/unions from contributing to candidates andparties and spending as third parties. As in the previous sections, the FDA measured a large zoneof unfairness that may allow some candidates and parties to have significant campaignadvantages over other candidates and parties.As mentioned in the Definition of Key Terms, impartiality, balance, and equity define electoralfairness. When looking at legislation, FDA auditors need to determine its equity in relation to allregistered candidates and parties. This is not a straightforward requirement. For example,although Albertas high cap on contributions applies to all candidates and parties, a high cap willlikely favor those who have connections to wealthy segments of Alberta society, and who havean ability to raise more funds. Alberta has no campaign expenditure limits for candidates andparties, which will likely favor large, more established parties over small and new parties,through the larger parties greater ability to raise funds. The FDA argues that equitable laws needto replace these areas of favoritism and unfairness in Albertas electoral process. For example, theFDA recommends campaign expenditure limits that reflect the financial capability of allregistered candidates and parties, and caps on contributions and third party spending that isreflective of Albertas per capita income and income inequality data. Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 40
  41. 41. The pie illustrates the level of fairness of the Alberta legislation on candidate and party influence. Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 41
  42. 42. Chapter Four: Voter InfluenceChapter four will focus on the FDA research and audit results of Albertan laws on voterinfluence and with respect to the electoral fairness.Chapter Summary: Alberta received a score of 65 percent for the electoral fairness of itslegislation pertaining to voter influence. The score means that Albertas laws on voter influencehave more than satisfactory scores in areas overall. The FDA found electoral fairness in thefollowing sections: reasonable length of the campaign period, legislated one person, one vote,freedom of expression and assembly, reasonable voter registration requirements, existingelectoral complaints process, special ballots for citizens unable to vote on election day, publictransparency of electoral finances, caps on contributions to candidates, parties, and constituencyassociations, caps on third party electoral spending, reasonable legislative process to enforceelectoral finance laws, disclosure requirements on electoral surveys/polls, reasonable process todetermine electoral boundaries, and reasonable registration requirements of candidates andparties. The FDA found electoral unfairness in the following sections: no campaign blackoutperiod, no provisions for inclusion of minorities in the Legislative Assembly, no candidate andparty expenditure limits, high cap on contributions to parties, no laws which disallowcorporations/unions from making contributions and spending as third parties, no requirement forimpartial and balance political coverage before and during the campaign period, no mediaownership concentration laws or equivalent, no proportional representation, and undemocraticprocess of government. The level and areas of electoral unfairness measured by the FDA suggestthat voter influence reform is necessary in order to encourage more equity for voters during thecampaign period, broad and balanced electoral discourse, and a more informed electorate.However, since the voter influence received the highest score of the fours audit sections, thissuggests that reforms for voter influence is less necessary, especially in consideration of themulti-application of sub-sections. Consequently, media and electoral finance reform will havesignificant impact on the electoral fairness of both voter influence and candidate and partyinfluence.Introduction:This chapter focuses on the Alberta laws pertaining to voter influence. The FDA audit teammeasures Albertas laws according to their equity for voters based on concepts of egalitarianismand political liberalism (see Definition of Key Terms and Research Methodology for furtherexplanation). The equity of voters entails not only equal value of votes, but also equitableopportunity for voter influence prior to and during the campaign period, and reasonable means totake advantage of these opportunities. The FDA acknowledges that perfect equal opportunity andmeans to take advantage of opportunity are very likely not attainable. For example, it isinconceivable how government and society can ensure that all voters have the same education,income, intelligence, leisure time etc. However, the FDA is interested in the overall equity ofAlberta legislation pertaining to voter influence. Does the legislation promote equity withinreasonable bounds? Are there areas of the legislation that clearly favour certain voters? Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 42
  43. 43. The FDA voter influence audit focuses on the following sub-sections not including relevant sub-sections from other sections: 1. blackout period; 2. value of a vote; 3. freedom of speech and assembly; 4. voter registration requirements; 5. voter electoral complaints; 6. voter protection; 7. voter assistance; 8. citizens living abroad; 9. inclusion of minorities.The FDA chose these sub-sections above and relevant sub-sections from other sections becausethey represent core areas of voter influence. Freedom of speech and assembly is weighted thehighest based on the concept of political liberalism. The FDA audit of voter influence includesresearch of Albertas election law and then application of the FDA matrices. The matrix scoringis based on an overall score of 0 to 10 out of 10.What follows are the audits results for each sub-section of Albertas legislation on voter say. Itshows the matrix question, the individual audit scores, and the research findings:Campaign PeriodDoes the length of the campaign period allow reasonably and fairly all registered candidates andparties enough time to share their backgrounds and policies with the voting public? .2 out of .2 Research Findings: The election campaign period is 28 days (Election Act, Article 38.1 (2) and 39). The longer the campaign, the more electoral finances are required, and therefore, the longer the campaign favours larger, more established parties over smaller and new parties. Based on the rationalization that this is a provincial election and with a provincial population of 3,584,304 (municpalaffairs.gov.ab.ca), 28 days is a reasonable time frame for all parties to express to the public their platform and ideologies (FDA Audit Team, 2012). Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 43
  44. 44. Blackout PeriodIs the length of the campaign blackout period reasonable? 0 out of .2 Research Findings: There is no campaign blackout period. FDA could find no campaign blackout period in the Alberta legislation. Elections Alberta confirmed this finding on February 9, 2012. There is a blackout on new surveys released 24 hours before the Election Day. During the blackout period 24 hours before the election, no media or individual can release new election survey results. Election Act, Article 135.4. (In Bolivia, election propaganda including polls and surveys are not allowed 48 hours prior to the Election Day (FDA Electoral Fairness Audit Report on Bolivia, 2011). In France, there is no commercial political advertisement 3 months prior to an election period; election propaganda during a campaign period must allow candidates adequate time to respond (FDA Electoral Fairness Audit Report on France, 2011). In Egypt (under Mubarak), polls and surveys are not allowed 7 days prior to the Election Day (FDA Electoral Fairness Audit Report on Egypt, 2011).) Survey results released to the public prior to the ‘blackout period’ can be transmitted again to the public during the ‘blackout period’ (Election Act, Article 135.4). There is no blackout period as indicated by the score of 0. The purpose of a blackout period is to allow voters time to process information on candidates and parties (FDA Audit Team, 2012).Value of a VoteAre the electoral (numerical) value of votes the same for all eligible voters? .5 out of .5 Research Findings: An elector/voter has only one vote (Election Act, Article 110). Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 44
  45. 45. Freedom of Speech and AssemblyIs the freedom of speech and assembly established through constitutional or legislative law? 2 out of 2 Research Findings: Citizens have freedom of expression and assembly before, during, and after the election campaign period (Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms).Voter Registration RequirementsAre the voter registration requirements reasonable? .2 out of .2 Research Findings: Voters must be a Canadian citizen, at least 18 years of age, a resident of Alberta for at least 6 months as a date fixed by the Chief Electoral Officer, and ordinarily a resident in the electoral division and subdivision for which the name of the person will be included on the list of electors (Election Act, Article 16). There are no unreasonable restrictions on the registration of voters (FDA Audit Team, 2012).Voter Electoral ComplaintsIs there a reasonable electoral complaints process for voters? .1 out of .2 Research Findings: Voters have the right to make a legal petition against the election results or the election of a specific candidate. The petition may be filed with a Alberta judiciary centre within 30 days after election results are deemed published or if the matter pertains to eligibility of the candidate’s nomination any time during the continuation of the Legislative Assembly. The petitioner must make a $1,000 deposit to cover fees of the respondent. In addition, there is an appeals process for petitions (Election Act, Articles 185-201). The FDA researchers could not find any process in Alberta Election Act for voters to file electoral complaints during the election period. Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 45

×